The genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are those organisms whose genetic material has adapted through certain curious mean like recombination and fertilization. GMOs can be of different types like plants, animals or microorganisms. The recombinant DNA technology also called as genetic engineering. Pakistan is an agriculture base country with more than 47% of its population dependent relative on agriculture as a means of living. This segment contributes 24% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Agriculture alone contributes 70% of its foreign exchange. Unless it maintains stable growth rates, its economy will endure hugely.

Pakistan is an agriculture supplier that not only means its requirement but also exports crop to few countries which involves our neighbor Afghanistan, as well as the Middle East and several Central Asian Republics. However, over recent years, Pakistan is facing some solemn challenges on the prospect of which drought, salinity; stress and climate changes are the most important once. All these issues have raised query on the food security issues in Pakistan and other part of the world. The population of Pakistan is about 180 million which is expected to rise to 240 million by the year 2035. To tackle these challenges, one approach that has been used in the world and to some level in Pakistan is the genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

However there have been a few controversies over the use of GM crops in Pakistan. The only GM crop approved and grown in Pakistan is the Bt cotton mainly grown in the southern Punjab. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) provided about 40,000.00 kg seed of insect resistant varieties including IR-FH-901’’, “IRNIBGE-2’’ which were grown on about 8,000 acres of land in year 2005-2006. The outcomes and results were encouraging. PAEC has evaluated the results on the basis of their ability to abide by Bio-safety rules. The regions in which Bt cotton grown included Bahawalpur, Multan, Muzaffer Garh and Karor Pakka, and the farmers tested these crops against its resistance and susceptibility to different insects high temperature, drought and yield and then compared it with traditional cotton varieties grown in similar areas.

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There have been few benefits observed by the farmers of these regions and it could be concluded from the result that the GM crops may solve a few issues of Pakistan, such as enhanced production and disease resistance. But there are number of risks related with biotechnology, some of which are mentioned in the following paragraph.

Allergenicity:

While GMOs having many advantages, there are also certain issues and negative effects of GMOs. Allergenicity is one of these major issues. Certain GM foods in USA and Europe have caused serious allergic reactions.

Impact on agro industry production system:

GM impacts on agro industry system in many ways; for examples, environmental pollution, threatening of GM free production, loss of seed variety and diversity.

Market based dependency and food security:

May alter the nature, structure and ownership of the food production system and possibly may completely makes the farmers dependent on market based approach. If GM crops may fails to resist altered climatic conditions, the food security threat might be increased.

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Economic loss concerns:

The GM crops might be a threat to economic market because of its very lengthy and costly process to bring the Gm in the market. New GM varieties and engineering technologies are being patented and will raise the price of new varieties seeds; ultimately small farmers and third world countries like Pakistan will be unable to afford the seeds of GM crops, and this would further widen the gap between poor and rich countries.

Impact on agro industry production system:

GM impacts on agro industry system in number of ways; for example, environmental pollution, threatening of GM frees production, loss of seed variety and diversity.

Market based dependency and food security: 

As one of the fastest growing emerging technology, biotechnology may alter the nature, structure and ownership of the food production system and possibly may completely make the farmers dependent on market based approach. Also, power may come in the hand of some giant firms and they may increase their monopoly over seed production. Moreover, if GM crops may fail to resist altered climatic conditions, the food security threat might be increased rather than decreased in most of the developing countries.

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Furthermore the genetically modified organisms can help in food production, drought resistance, climate change migration and disease resistance but may have produce number of threats at gene, individual, population and ecosystem level. The developing countries like Pakistan should ensure strong scientific capacity and research based approach in the GMOs.

GMOsAuthors:

Khizar Razzaq1*, kashif Naveed1, Tanzeel Asim2 and Ahsan Haider3

1Department of plant pathology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad

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